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Youth Volunteer Vacations

Our Youth Volunteer Summer Vacations are opportunities for youth ages 14-18 to spend a week outdoors building and maintaining hiking trails in a safe, teamwork-oriented environment throughout the state. Learn more about the details and schedule.

Update as of 4/27/21: Most 2021 Youth Volunteer Vacations are now full. There are still 2 spots open on the LGBTQ+ Crew at Mt. Rainier National Park.

WTA is currently planning for a modified Youth Volunteer Vacation season in July and August, utilizing our COVID safety protocols.
Many things will look different in 2021, including trip capacity and total number of trips offered. Trips will be available to preview and apply for on April 1, by 5pm . For more detailed information about program changes in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, please read this post on our blog. 

Our Youth Volunteer Summer Vacations are opportunities for youth ages 14-18 to spend a week outdoors building and maintaining hiking trails in a safe, teamwork-oriented environment throughout the state. Learn more about the details and schedule.

Overview

  • Open to high school students 14-18 years old
  • A crew is comprised of 10 teens and 2 adult crew leaders
  • 1 week camping & working on trails in Washington state
  • Frontcountry and backcountry opportunities for youth of all identities
  • Shared-identity trips, too!
  • Develop leadership & outdoor skills
  • Take care of our hiking trails
  • Earn service hours for school
  • And did we already say it's fun?!

Each summer, teens from across the state join WTA to learn about the world of building and taking care of hiking trails. These opportunities allow teens to meet new friends, try new things and explore some of Washington state's best outdoor places. All of our trips provide you with experienced crew leaders, great projects and all of your meals for the week. Camping gear is available to borrow.

3 Vacation Types

3 smiling teens enjoy a game of cards in camp on their Youth Volunteer Vacation at Moran State Park. Photo by Britt LêFrontcountry (new & returning youth of all identities)

WTA frontcountry trips provide opportunities for youth of all identities to experience projects near the ocean and in the mountains. All of our trips provide you with experienced crew leaders, a great project and all of your meals for the week.
Packing List for Frontcountry Trips

Youth Llama 2019
Backcountry (youth of all identities with prior experience)

Youth of all identities, ages 15 and up, who have previously completed at least 5 days of trail work may be eligible for one of our youth backcountry trips. Participants on these trips backpack to a basecamp where they will live for the week. Youth volunteers will have a chance to grow their trail and leadership skills with the support of WTA crew leaders and other experienced youth. 
Packing List for Backcountry Trips

Latina youth and adult crew leaders smile and pose for a group picture on the stairs that they just built at Mt. Rainier. Photo by Iris Zacarias.
Shared-identity trips (New and returning youth with specific identities)

WTA knows that significant barriers, including lack of representation, have kept many people from hiking and camping. Our shared-identity trips are a fun and inclusive introduction to camping, trail work, hiking and the WTA community where youth have their identities recognized and celebrated. In 2021, WTA will be offering the following shared-identity trips: All Girls Crew and LGBTQ+ Crew. 


Rules & Expectations

General rules for youth volunteer vacations

  • When volunteers sign up for a youth volunteer vacation, they make a commitment to spend the entire week with the crew.
  • Everyone on the crew is expected to act in a cooperative and respectful manner toward each other. Conduct that is disruptive will not be tolerated, and anyone engaging in such conduct may be required to leave the trip. Number of service hours awarded is dependent on positive behavior. WTA reserves the right to reduce the number of service hours youth are awarded based on the youth's behavior. 
  • Crew leaders and volunteers must wear boots, gloves, hard hats, shirts with sleeves (long-sleeved shirts are optional but encouraged depending on project) and long pants while working.
  • Once signed in, youth volunteers are not allowed to drive motor vehicles. If a youth has driven themself to the meeting spot for the trip, the crew leader will collect the keys on arrival day and return the keys on day of departure.
  • The use of innappropriate language is unacceptable, and must be controlled.
  • Volunteers must notify a crew leader before separating from the group or leaving the camp area.
  • With the exception of digital cameras, bringing electronics is not allowed. WTA provides a chance for youth to interact with each other outdoors while enjoying the natural world. Also, electronics are sensitive to heat and moisture and the chance of them getting damaged or broken is high due to the outdoor environment. Crew leaders will have cell phones and/or radios to use in case of emergency, and will also share pictures from the week with the crew after returning home. If crew leaders find out that youth have brought other electronics such as cell phones or video games, they will confiscate the items for the duration of the trip and then return it at the end of the trip.

Non-negotiable behaviors that lead to expulsion from the trip

  • Use or possession of illegal drugs or alcohol
  • Possession of firearms or weapons (regardless of whether they are licensed to carry a concealed weapon)
  • Persistent disrespectful behavior to other trip participants and/or adults, including inappropriate language
  • Unauthorized departure from trip
  • If a youth volunteer violates these rules, the crew leader will discuss the actions or behavior with the participant and may contact a parent or guardian to make arrangements to pick up the participant early from the trip.

If you have any questions or concerns about these rules and expectations please contact WTA Youth Trail Program Manager, Clarissa Allen, at clarissa@wta.org.

Fees

For the 2021 season, Youth Volunteer Vacations are $250 for WTA members and $300 for non-members. There is a $30 cancellation fee for cancellations more than 30 days prior to the trip, and no refund for cancellations within 30 days of the trip.

Scholarships

We believe no teen should have to stay home this summer because they can't afford to go outside. Thanks to donations from members and supporters, WTA is proud to offer full scholarships for individuals. Learn more about this opportunity to get more youth outdoors.

West Cady Ridge 7.11.17 by Rachel Wendling -116.JPG
Photo by Rachel Wendling.

Application Process

youth volunteer vacation graphics

Forms Phase (completed by Parents/Guardians)

Overview: To obtain the paperwork for your youth, the parent/guardian must create a My Backpack account. Once the parent/guardian has an account, go to My Backpack Dashboard and create a dependent account for your child. Once you have created their account, you'll find the required paperwork.

Step 1. Parent/Guardian must create My Backpack account
Step 2. Under My Backpack Dashboard, Parent/Guardian creates Dependent Account
Step 3. Go to youth's My Backpack Dashboard to see and fill out forms. Please note that it may take 24 hours for a newly created Dependent Account and associated forms to appear. 
Step 4. Submit Medical History form online
Step 5. Move on to the Application Phase

Application Phase (completed by Youth or Parents/Guardians)

Overview: Once your forms are submitted, and after April 1, you may begin the application phase. Use our Find a Work Party search tool to find and apply for a youth volunteer vacation. Applications received by April 15 will be given priority, with trip notifications going out on April 28. Once placed on a trip, pay within 2 weeks to secure your spot.

Step 1. STOP. Have you completed your Medical History Form? You won't be able to submit an application until you've submitted this form.
Step 2. Use our Find a Work Party to browse and select a Youth Volunteer Vacation.
Step 3. Fill out the application for your top choice, and make sure to list your 2nd and 3rd choice trips, too.
Step 4. WTA will notify you of your trip placement on April 28.
Step 5. Pay for your trip within 2 weeks of trip placement, and have fun!

If you are unable to submit your forms online, you can complete and mail the documents AFTER APRIL 1 below to:
WTA, c/o Youth Vacations
705 2nd Ave, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 981042019

Medical History Form
Youth Volunteer Vacation Application
Scholarship Application

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We have answers in our frequently asked questions for both youth and parents.